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Fashion Is A Natural Force In Disaster Relief

Heights Editor

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

Although storm fashion up here in Boston meant putting on your Wellies and braving the two-second walk to Lower (or if you are me, eating exclusively baked goods in the comfort of your room), for many designers, the term takes on another meaning. Fashion does not always have to be frivolous—in fact, I believe it rarely is. It is not uncommon, in the face of a natural disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, to see the powers of fashion used for good. Shop for a cause, and feel good about the purchases you make.

A whole crop of t-shirts has sprung up in the wake of the storm that is both inspired by and benefitting the victims of the storm. Designer Jake Levine’s two tees, one women’s and one men’s, are emblazoned with the words “NYC’s Newest Neighborhood! South of Power.” In NYC, 39th street marked the border between light and dark, and has swiftly become the divider for SoPo, or “south of power.”

The shirts can be purchased at for $20 apiece with proceeds benefitting survivors and relief efforts. These tees have raised $8,010 of their $10,000 goal thus far. has also been selling “I am Vermont Strong” tees and hoodies to raise awareness of the lesser-known destruction that has hit this state. The sale of “Vermont Strong” pieces has already raised $23,880 towards the relief effort, a staggering amount. is a great source to look at for fashion for a cause at all times, but especially in the wake of a natural disaster like the one our country just faced.

New York-based designer Sebastian Errazuriz’s studio was greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy. Errazuriz decided to make two NY-themed hurricane relief shirts to ease the suffering of the city he works in and loves. The results are stunning. Using the iconic “I ‘Heart’ New York,” shirts, and one with the subway map printed on it, Errazuriz reworked them to reflect Sandy’s damage. The “I ‘Heart’ New York” shirt has a dark blue sombre effect on it, mirroring how the storm waters overtook the city. The subway map has a similar sombre effect, but in black, clearly mimicking the loss of power that crippled the city in such a drastic way.

Other brands and chains, though not producing Sandy-specific pieces, are doing their part in their own way. Penfield, an outdoor clothing store based out of Hudson, Mass., is donating $10 to the Red Cross for Sandy relief efforts for every purchase made online. The independent design line, Green Line by K, is donating 10 percent of all sales proceeds on Nov. 8 and 9 to relief efforts, as well as making donations of clothing and shoes to children left in need in the path of Sandy’s destruction. These are just two of the many examples of fashion lines taking a selfless step back and helping others.

Universities are doing their part too, and getting involved with relief efforts. Yale students have designed and are currently selling “Shirts for Sandy,” proclaiming that we should all “Stay Afloat,” and picturing a duck weathering a storm in an inner tube. For only $14, one could be all yours, and with 100 percent of proceeds after production going to the relief effort, it’s a purchase you can feel great about. Additionally, the Yale students have teamed up with AmeriCares, which has pledged to triple all donations made.

Amidst the crop of Hurricane Sandy t-shirts that are being peddled to raise serious cash for storm survivors and reconstruction (my home shore in New Jersey, may you return to your previous splendor), other fashion giants are making monstrous donations to aid the relief efforts. Among them: Kohl’s, Target, and Ralph Lauren. These donations make shopping at these stores even better because you know your purchase is aiding those in need.

Although it is wonderful to help in the wake of storms like Sandy, this does not need to be the only time that our fashion choices make a difference. Whether it be purchasing clothes made out of sustainable fabrics, buying from companies that do not rely on sweatshop labor, or making a purchase that directly benefits someone in need, there is always a way to give back while you shop.

Whether you donate your time, your money, or simply buy a Hurricane Sandy shirt, it’s important to keep all those suffering in the wake of the storm in our thoughts and prayers.

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